A Mini-Guide through Small Things Pictorial

Small Things takes place almost entirely in Carthage, Illinois, where I grew up.

Tanner drowned here, in the Carthage Lake

Small Things takes place in Carthage, Illinois, where I grew up. All of the places in the novel are real, albeit sometimes re-imagined. With that said, here’s a (very) mini-pictorial tour through Small Things.

(Spoiler) tracks Shawn as he rides his bicycle past the Carthage Court House.

Tanner was buried in Moss Ridge Cemetery, and some pivotal scenes take place there as well

This is where (spoiler) happens, and, later, (spoiler) is visited by his (spoiler) and (spoiler.)




Various people have drowned in the Carthage Lake over the years, so Tanner drowning there wasn’t really a stretch.






Carthage is the county seat of Hancock County, and as such has a beautiful courthouse that occupies the center of the town square. There’s also a boulder (not pictured) that marks where Abraham Lincoln once stood to give a speech.





Moss Ridge Cemetery is a pivotal location in Small Things, and plays a big part in Memories of a Ghost as well.






I grew up on Fayette Street in Carthage, just down the road from Moss Ridge. I spent many nights spooked out about the thought of ghosts and zombies making their way from there to my house!

The entrance to the Carthage Swimming Pool, where Shawn attempts to teach Jenny to swim, but unfortunately (spoiler.)

Jenny liked to go to the park and sit on the swings. It helped her think.




The Carthage Swimming pool hasn’t changed much from when I was a kid. In Small Things, Jenny talks about a frustrated swimming instructor tossing her out into the middle of the pool in a failed attempt to force her to swim. That actually happened to me!





Here’s the slide upon where Shawn and Jenny went during their (spoiler.)

I swear this is the same swing set that was there when I was a kid. This is in the Jaycee Park, a place I spent a fair amount of time at as a child. The park appears in both Small Things and Threads.




The same goes for the slide! I am pretty sure the playground equipment here hasn’t changed since the 1970’s. A pivotal scene in Shawn and Jenny’s relationship takes place on top of that slide.



Shawn and Jenny hide in the Old Carthage Jail when being chased by (spoiler.)



The Old Carthage jail is where Mormon founder Joseph Smith was killed. The Mormon Church has owned it was as long as I can remember, and gives tours. Every summer, my friends and I would take the tour not to learn about Mormon history but because the inside was air conditioned!

My real-life grandmother, Tillie Young, makes a brief appearance in Small Things



My real-life grandmother, Matilda “Tillie” Young, makes a brief appearance in Small Things early on in the novel and has a conversation with the hero of my book, Shawn Spencer. Tillie passed away in 2003, at the age of 83, and this was my way of honoring her, immortalizing her forever within the pages of my novel.



There are many scenes from Small Things not pictured here, in some cases because the landmarks no longer exist or because they are in such disrepair (like the old Lincoln Elementary school) that they look nothing like they once did. The old house where so many scenes take place isn’t pictured because it exists solely in my mind’s eye. Besides, sometimes things are better left to the imagination.

I hope you enjoyed this mini-pictorial of Small Things! If you haven’t already, go pick up the book. It’s available in Kindle, trade paperback, and audio book versions, and you can also purchase an autographed edition directly from me. I know you’ll enjoy it!

About Joe

Joe lives in Rogers, Arkansas with his wife Andee, his son Fletcher, and their cats Milo, Lucky, and Archer.
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11 Responses to A Mini-Guide through Small Things Pictorial

  1. Vicky Gann Carney says:

    I love Carthage! Going there July 2016!! Family reunion time! Last year my nephew and I won the egg toss in Carthage Square after the 4th of July parade!

    • Joe says:

      Just don’t go to Moss Ride Cemetery after dark… 😉

    • Stephen says:

      If you find any Boyer’s still lurking around up there, Tell them Andrew Jackson Boyer’s Great Grandson, Sydney Chester Boyer’s Grandson, son of James Jackson Boyer – Stephen Boyer says Howdy from Texas. BTW, if anyone has pictures of their headstones, I’d love to have a copy!

  2. Sandra Gann says:

    My husband, Raymond (Rusty) Gann is from Carthage Illinois. His brother and two sisters still live in the area and his 91 year old mother still lives in town. We will have to look for a hard copy of this to get. I am sure he would love to read it.

  3. Stephanie Stott says:

    I pictured that old house on South Madison that sat abandoned for years when I was reading Small Things. It’s interesting to see what has stayed the same and what has changed. Living here still, I am sure I don’t see the change as much as you did when you were back!

  4. Jan Bailey says:

    I knew your grandmother, Tilly fairly well, she was pretty amazing.

  5. Denise says:

    Great book. I always live in Carthage.

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